Provider adherence to the national treatment guidelines for gonorrhea is critical to assuring effective treatment. It is also an important means of limiting antibiotic overuse, which can lead to development of resistant bacteria. The Chinese treatment guidelines recommend the monotherapy with ceftriaxone or spectinomycin in accordance with the World Health Organization guidelines for treatment of uncomplicated gonorrhea. We evaluated adherence to the guidelines among treatment providers in China.Methods
The study was a nationwide cross-sectional study. In each of the 6 geographic regions in China, at least 1 province was selected. In each selected province, cities with elevated incidence of reported gonorrhea were purposively selected. Using a questionnaire, 2121 physicians recruited from 512 different categories and levels of health sectors from July to September 2017 were investigated.Results
Of the participants, more than 99% diagnosed gonorrhea using one of the laboratory tests including Gram stain, culture, nucleic acid amplification test, or other tests. Culture was the predominant assay of the choice for the diagnosis. Of the 1890 physicians who provided information on prescription behaviors, 62.2% were not adherent to the regimens for treatment of uncomplicated gonorrhea recommended by the National Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Treatment Guidelines (National STD Guidelines). Physicians working in the areas located in Northern China (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 3.06; 95% confidence intervals [CIs], 1.77–5.31), in general hospitals or departments of urology (AOR, 1.54; 95% CIs, 1.08–2.19), diagnosing more cases in the past 6 months (AOR, 1.82; 95% CIs, 1.25–2.67), or unfamiliar with the treatment regimens in the National STD Guidelines (AOR, 3.48; 95% CIs, 2.76–4.37) were significantly more likely to be nonadherent to the National STD Guidelines.Conclusions
It can be concluded from our study that nonadherence to the national guidelines and empirical treatment with high doses of ceftriaxone occurred frequently in China. Further studies on the impacts of the empirical treatment on antimicrobial resistance of gonorrhea are needed.